PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

May 13, 2014

Ask A Cop: Left lane for passing only

Rickey Antoine
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The City of Port Arthur Police Department is joining forces with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and law enforcement agencies across Texas, to remind drivers and passengers to always wear their seat belt. To provide additional motivation, law enforcement officers will give extra focus to ticketing unbuckled drivers and passengers throughout the “Click It or Ticket” enforcement period, which runs from May 19 to June 1.

• Jasmine from Houston Asks: Officer Antoine, I am from Port Arthur but I currently live in Houston and yes, I still follow the Port Arthur newspaper online. As you know, the driving behavior is different in Houston as it is in Port Arthur. People seem to be so impatient and always speeding in a hurry. I've learned to leave 30 minutes earlier than my scheduled time of arrival just in case of unforeseen incidents that may occur on the road especially in Houston. Now as I am driving on some roads in the inside lane most times up to the posted speed limit, and there is an impatient driver behind me tailgating and wanting me to pull over, do I have to move over because I'm not in a hurry? As long as I'm doing the speed limit am I OK to continue to drive in the left lane right?

Answer: Very good question Jasmine. I'm glad to hear that you are keeping up what’s going on in your hometown of Port Arthur, and I'm honored you reached out to me for a traffic related question. I agree with you Jasmine. Houston traffic is a bit faster pace than what we commonly experience in Port Arthur. My wife and I experienced that just this past weekend. I commend you for your safe driving habits Jasmine, like leaving 30 minutes earlier for any planned travel, because it seems that most people leave 10 minutes later and always wind up in a rush. But Jasmine, I'm going to correct you on left lane driving. Even though you are in the left lane and driving the speed limit, you are committing an offense if you don't allow traffic to pass. Left lane driving is for turning left and passing, if you are not doing those two actions we should commonly drive in the right lane. Jasmine keep in mind you are not the police, so don't take it into you own hands to enforce the transportation code on other motorist. I can understand it upsets you when you are driving the speed limit and there's an impatient motorist close behind you wanting to pass. So Jasmine, you can be RIGHT by not driving over the speed limit and WRONG by driving in the left lane holding up traffic from speeding. Also tailgating, or driving too closely, is a violation, as you can see almost nothing good can result from this situation. Move over Jasmine and drive in the right lane. Refer to Texas Transportation code 545.051.

• James from Groves Asks; Officer Antoine, I thought it was illegal to talk on the cell phone in school zones. Tell me why I've seen a few officers talking on their cell phone in school zones. Is it ok for them to break the law?

Answer: Good question James. Well James, you are correct that it is illegal to use a hand held wireless communication device (cellphone) within a school zone during the certain times. However, police officers operating an emergency vehicle in the course of their job are exempt from the hands free cell phone school zone law in Texas. James, maybe that's why you have seen police officers talking on their phone in school zones. For Polices Officers and any driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, it’s not illegal.

• Chris from Port Arthur Asks- Officer Antoine, can you tell me why I have to park my car in the parking lot of Walmart, and Police Officers dressed in regular clothes, who are off from work are parking their Police cars in the fire lane in the Walmart parking lot? I don't think it’s fair, and you would write me a ticket for parking there, so why do the Police park there?

Answer- Good question Chris. Well Chris, the simply answer is Yes, you are correct. You would probably be cited for parking in the fire lane because for you it’s illegal. But, it is not illegal for a Port Arthur Police Officer to park their police vehicle in any fire lane whether in uniform or plain clothes. Chris a word to the wise, police officers are never off.

Join Officer Antoine for "Ask A Cop" live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, "The Breeze" radio station, every Tuesday for 1 hour from 1p-2p. Tune in and listen as Officer Antoine discusses in detail the newly released “Ask A Cop” article that printed in The News. You can also tune in via internet at www.ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in and ask your question live to Officer Antoine at (409) 982-0247.

Remember to email your questions to rantoine@portarthurpd.com, or call 409-984-8541 and leave a voice mail question, or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can "Ask A Cop.”